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Benchmarking 101: Homeowners Guide

Whenever a house or a building is built, some amount of settlement is expected. How fast it settles depends on the type of soil the foundation is built on and the current weather. 

What is Benchmarking?  

Benchmarking helps determine the severity of foundation settlement. Benchmarking is a measure that indicates the amount of settlement that has occurred. These reports track changes over time and help professionals determine the best solution for your home. In addition, benchmarking is also performed after piers are installed. The installation crew marks above each pier. A laser level is set up, and small rivets are installed into the foundation wall. This allows the contractor to perform future inspections to ensure your piers continue to work in stabilizing the home. 

Understanding Foundation Settlement  

Since benchmarking is a level of settlement, it’s important to understand how settlement works.  

You probably know that homes settle with time, but don’t understand why the foundation needs support. Settlement is the major reason why contractors have to stabilize the foundation.  

Three of the top contributing factors include:  

Poor compaction

When the builder fails to tamp down soil properly, it will start sinking as it’s unable to bear the weight of your home.  

Shrinking cracked soil with grass

Drying and shrinking soil

Soils dry up and shrink in summer and this creates voids that the foundation settles into.   

Wetness and softening soil

Whenever there’s a drought, you can expect cracks to form under your foundation. These openings will let water in during heavy rains, leading to wetting and softening of foundation soil. Such soils are typically soft, loose, and unable to hold your home’s weight.  

Engineers and inspectors usually follow the guidelines set out by the American Society of Civil Engineers when addressing settlement issues. These guidelines provide them with a standard way of examining foundations. Evaluations do factor a couple of things such as localized foundation deflection and its overall tilt. 

How Do Contractors Perform Benchmarking?  

Homeowners are naturally curious about anything that could have an impact on their home’s structural integrity, especially the foundation on which the entire structure rests. After all, they spent lots of cash and time on their property.   

Here’s how contractors perform benchmarking:   

  • Once all piers have been installed during a piering project and the home has been stabilized, the installers place benchmarks above each pier, one at a time.  
  • A laser level is set up and tiny rivers driven into the foundation.  
  • Installers will use them to perform future inspections, ensuring piers are working just fine.  

As we mentioned, benchmarking is done after foundation work has been performed. However, it is part of the process as a whole. Therefore, once benchmarking is done, the crew will replace and tamp down any removed soil, ensuring your home looks just like it did before. Any landscaping that was removed can be put back in place at this time.   

Can I Benchmark the Foundation by Myself? 

Benchmarking isn’t a typical DIY job that you could do with a kit. Because benchmarking is a highly technical job, it’s best left to contractors with the requisite skills, training, and equipment. 

Get in touch with the experts at Groundworks if you need help stabilizing your settling foundation. Our crew will benchmark the foundation so they can have a reference point to check piers whenever they perform repairs, ensuring your warranty stays valid.